Time for celebration at Anfield vs Chelsea.
Liverpool want more credit
Liverpool have dismissed suggestions that Chelsea's
injuries were the cause of their humiliation at Anfield on
Boss Rafael Benitez is demanding that his team get full
credit for their 2-0 Barclays Premiership victory following
claims that it came about because central defenders John
Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Khalid Boulahrouz
Both Benitez and defender Jamie Carragher are unimpressed
with the excuses being made for Chelsea.
Carragher said: "In Rafa's first season I can remember us
going into big games with Neil Mellor a lone striker. I
don't remember too many people making excuses for us."
Benitez added: "When we were losing some games, without
Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, people didn't say we had
"The first season I was here we had players missing, but we
said, 'No excuses, let's keep going'.
"We deserve some credit. Don't forget we had Xabi off the
field for 10 minutes due to injury during Saturday's win. We
must give credit to our players and not talk about the other
"I've said all season we have a better squad than before, a
better team than before. Now when you see players like
Jermaine Pennant playing really, really well and Fabio
Aurelio also, you know you have a good team and that we can
Yet despite the win, Liverpool are still 11 points behind
leaders Manchester United and Carragher is determined not to
allow the club to be overcome with talk of a possible title
The England international insists that the challenge is to
catch Chelsea and grab second spot, not to have too many
fanciful ideas of overhauling Manchester United at the top.
Carragher said: "We've got to just focus on winning as many
games as we can and keep the pressure on the top two.
"The target now is to catch Chelsea. That's what Saturday's
result has done for us. We've given ourselves a chance of
doing that, and if we can push ourselves into second, then
we can have a look where we are.
"We've done well over the last few months and all the talk
has been about Manchester United and Chelsea rather than us.
"It's nice that some people are talking about us as well
now, but sometimes it's better when you can just quietly go
on a run like we have.
"Everyone was asking whether Arsenal beating Manchester
United was good for us, but for me we've still got to think
it's Arsenal and Chelsea we're closest to and think we're in
a battle for second at the moment."
Kuyt: It was a perfect win
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Dirk Kuyt reflected on the 2-0 win over Chelsea and
admitted it was the perfect day and a great confidence
the remainder of the season.
The Dutch international scored his ninth goal of the season
to give the Reds the lead and felt the early breakthrough
was a crucial moment in the game.
"This was a great result and there was only one team that
deserved to win," enthused Kuyt. "We were good in attack but
we were fabulous in defence. We didn't give them one chance
all game, we were defensively very strong.
"It was the perfect day for us. We controlled the game, we
worked for each other as a team, and that was the big
difference between us and them.
"It was crucial that we scored the first goal. I can
remember when we played Chelsea earlier in the season at
Stamford Bridge, I had a chance but put it against the bar
and you can see what difference it makes if you score
the first goal."
title talk from Reds
By Paul Walker - PA Sport
Liverpool's pantomime season is over and the big two in
the Premiership know the men from Anfield are 'right behind
Manager Rafael Benitez was vilified a couple of weeks back
after two hugely embarrassing cup defeats by Arsenal.
The 6-3 debacle in the Carling Cup was the last time the
Anfield fans had seen their men in action prior to
Saturday's overpowering of champions Chelsea.
Now the talk is off stealing the runners-up spot or even -
and it is no more than a whisper - sneaking up on Manchester
United at the top of the table.
Skipper Steven Gerrard, who produced a disciplined,
controlled midfield display, tried to keep title talk in
perspective, saying: "It's a massive result, but we still
have a lot of work to do.
"Any result at home is a good one for us but against the
champions it's extra special.
"It's a big result for us, but we're still third and we
still have a lot to do. All we can do is make sure we do the
same things again in the next match."
Asked whether Liverpool were now contenders for the title,
Gerrard added: "I don't want to provide any headlines. The
gap is still massive but all we can do is concentrate on
ourselves and hope for more slip-ups ahead of us."
But the belief that miracles can happen was evident from
Jermaine Pennant, who struck a cracker for his first goal
for the club.
The winger said: "I was pleased with a goal like that for my
first for Liverpool, it was very special.
"Now we are in with a chance. We have the best home record
of any club in the division so anyone who comes here knows
they are in for a tough time.
"We have Manchester United and Arsenal still to play at
Anfield and after this we are very confident. They will find
it very difficult and if we can continue to keep playing
like we did against Chelsea then we can close on the top
For Benitez, the best league result of his 31 months at
Anfield vindicated the rotation policy used to keep players
fresh for just such an eventuality as beating Chelsea.
And he had high praise for Gerrard's intelligent leadership,
saying: "Against Chelsea you must control midfield, they
have weaknesses out wide but not in the middle. Gerrard did
just that, the key was Stevie, Xabi Alonso and Dirk Kuyt
working back, in these central areas.
"Stevie likes to get into the box and it is more difficult
for him to wait and stay in the midfield role, but he knows
what to do and did a very good job.
"It was a fine team performance, but I was pleased that
Fabio Aurelio and (Jermaine) Pennant played so well. People
have been critical of them, but this game showed how good
they are and how well they worked for the team."
Benitez would not be drawn into a debate about the title,
but he knows Liverpool are putting pressure on the top two.
He said: "If we want to be at the top, if you want to be a
contender and have opportunities to do something at the top
and to have a chance of winning titles, you must beat your
"It is very important to beat the best teams. We have done
that in cups and not always in the league, but this results
shows what we are capable of.
"If we had lost the gap would have been 11 points between
the teams, now it is just five. We have stopped them taking
three points and made sure we had them. That makes such
games worth six points."
He added: "We did not know beforehand who Chelsea were going
to play at the back, we'd heard rumours but decided to
ignore them and think only of our plans.
"But we did know that Chelsea may struggle in the air and
Crouch proved to be the key while Kuyt was strong and a good
"Chelsea are a top side and professionally we wanted to beat
the best players. Added to that, they were second in the
table and we knew we had to win to close the gap.
"Now we are five points behind and we know it is a long race
and there is plenty that can still happen. We knew all this
beforehand, it affected how we approached things.
"We are in a good position now, and that just reminds me of
what I said a few weeks ago when we were being criticised. I
knew my squad was strong and I had confidence in them."
delighted to break his duck
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Jermaine Pennant said he was absolutely delighted to
score his first goal for Liverpool in the 2-0 win over
Chelsea and called it a special moment.
The winger beat Petr Cech with a fantastic volley from
outside the box to set the seal on a fantastic team
performance and a thoroughly deserved victory.
"To score a goal like that was very, very special and a
great way for me to get my first goal for Liverpool,"
enthused the Reds number 16.
"There was not much on for me in the box so I just thought
I'd have a shot and it was nice to see it go in.
"It was a great win for us and we still have to play
Manchester United and Arsenal here. We have the best home
record in the Premiership and we will just keep going and
see what happens."
Benitez: Reds deserve credit
Rafael Benitez refused to let Chelsea's obvious defensive
problems detract from the quality of his Liverpool side's
performance on Saturday.
The Reds boss took his first points from a Premiership
fixture against Jose Mourinho's Blues as Dirk Kuyt and
Jermaine Pennant scored first-half goals in a
straightforward 2-0 win over the champions at Anfield.
Chelsea's makeshift centre-back pairing of Michael Essien
and Paulo Ferreira were no match for Kuyt and Peter Crouch
and Benitez, asked if he was confident when he saw the
opposition team sheet, preferred to focus on what his side
had done well.
"I was confident when I saw my team sheet," said the
Spaniard. "I thought we did a very good job and deserved to
"We played well. I don't know if it was because they had
problems but we played well."
Liverpool lie in third place, with leaders Manchester United
and also Arsenal still to come to Anfield, and Benitez
added: "We have three more points and I'm really happy with
the situation. We have Man United and Arsenal at home, we
have confidence and we are playing well."
Jose: I'm not a miracle worker
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insisted he "cannot do
miracles" after seeing his makeshift defence fail to prevent
a routine Liverpool victory.
The Reds exploited the faltering Premiership champions'
defensive crisis with a 2-0 win at Anfield on Saturday
Blues skipper John Terry is still sidelined by injury and
Ricardo Carvalho went down with a temperature in the
morning, forcing Mourinho to field a centre-back pairing of
Michael Essien and Paulo Ferreira.
Liverpool took full advantage with Peter Crouch and Dirk
Kuyt giving Essien and Ferreira a torrid time with Kuyt
latching on to a Crouch flick on to fire the Reds ahead in
the fourth minute and Jermaine Pennant adding a second on 18
minutes to leave Chelsea with a mountain to climb.
Mourinho, asked if he blamed Chelsea's title setback on the
current centre-back crisis, told Sky Sports: "I think so.
It's obvious. There were definitely mistakes with people not
adapting to their positions.
"I was waiting for 15 or 20 minutes to go by with no goals
conceded and the confidence arriving. But when the team is
very fragile on the pitch and mentally not so
self-confident, it is difficult.
"In the second half, I think we played better but Liverpool
defended well and were full of confidence. They knew they
could be adventurous because our defensive line is fragile.
"They had two big guys up front in Crouch and Kuyt and we
cannot cope with it. It's obvious. You cannot do miracles.
"The players are playing with pride but my group of players
is very short. The group is mentally strong and together and
ready for the rest of the season in several competitions."
Mourinho would clearly like to have bought in defensive
cover during the January transfer window but, with 10 days
remaining, does not expect any centre backs to arrive at
"I don't know and I don't want to speak about it," said
Mourinho, who said on Thursday that he would be happy to
complete his contract with the Blues providing he has
support and respect from the Chelsea hierarchy.
"The market is open for another 10 days. But the market was
open for 20 days and if we didn't get one then I don't see
why we should get one now.
"It is difficult to cope without central defenders -
especially in the Premiership - and we know in advance the
problems we have for this game," he added.
give Jose the blues
By Graeme Bailey - Sky Sports
A terrific Liverpool performance saw them coast to a 2-0
win over a very poor Chelsea at Anfield.
From the off the home side looked far hungrier and their
attacking approach was rewarded with a fourth minute lead as
Dirk Kuyt struck.
Before 20 minutes had gone, Liverpool's domination told
again as Jermaine Pennant's struck his first goal for the
club and that proved enough for Rafa Benitez - as he claimed
his first league victory over Jose Mourinho.
It was a rampant first half display from Liverpool that saw
them set up victory as they totally over-ran a Chelsea side
which looked completely disorganised without talismanic
skipper John Terry in defence.
The main talking point before the game was Petr Cech's
return and he was happy to claim a Steven Gerrard header
after three minutes to get his first touch of a ball for
over three months.
However, within a minute Cech's next task was to pick the
ball out of the back of the net as Liverpool swept into the
lead. A long ball flicked on by Peter Crouch fell for Kuyt,
he knocked the ball past hapless make-shift centre-half
Paulo Ferreira, before coolly side-footing a half-volley
into the corner.
Chelsea just could not come to terms with Liverpool's
attacking play and the home side should have been two-up
just moments later. Xabi Alonso's excellent ball into the
box freed John Arne Riise - but Cech was down wonderfully
well to make the save.
Chelsea's first meaningful chance came for Didier Drogba
from a corner but he headed wide - and within minutes they
found themselves further behind.
A long ball from Gerrard was headed clear by Michael Essien,
the ball fell for Pennant - but with Ashley Cole backing off
and inviting a shot, the former Birmingham man accepted the
invitation and unleashed a brilliant effort into the top
corner leaving Cech helpless.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was soon introduced for the injured
Arjen Robben and that resulted in some meaningful Chelsea
possession - but Jose Reina remained untested up to
Liverpool should have had the game well and truly sewn up by
the hour mark and it was Crouch the guilty party for missing
two great chances.
Pennant, having one of his best games for the club, was the
creator for the first opportunity as he whipped in a cross
from the right and found Crouch unmarked 12 yards out but he
disappointingly headed tamely at Cech.
Then came a double let off for the champions as Riise
unleashed a trademark thunderbolt from 30 yards which
smashed off the crossbar - the rebound looked to drop
favourably for Crouch but under Essien's challenge he failed
to find the target.
Chelsea simply were not clicking and Drogba seemed to sum up
their day with two fluffed chances from great positioned
free-kicks. He first contrived with Michael Ballack - one
the edge of the box - to simply give the ball straight to
the home side.
Then he was picked out brilliantly by Lampard from a set
piece on the right just inside the box - but he missed the
ball completely with his side foot.
Wright-Phillips was just about Chelsea's best player after
entering the fray earlier in the first half and his mazy run
through the Liverpool backline almost resulted in a goal as
he crossed from the by-line and Dan Agger was relieved to
see the ball fly into the side-netting rather than the back
of the net.
An excellent late intervention from Ferreira prevented Kuyt
adding a third - but Mourinho could have had few complaints
had Liverpool, as they should have, secured a more sizeable
Indeed Kuyt spurned an even better chance in the final
minute when he blazed over from 10 yards after a wonderful
flicked pass from Gerrard.